Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Strike at the root

So, all those entreaties from CAMRA, SIBA and the BBPA fell on deaf ears, and Osborne put up beer duties by RPI + 2%, just as he had said he would. He gave no indication that he had even considered the case against. This is just what I forecast – the campaign, while laudable in motivation, was just so much pissing in the wind.

Where do we go from here, then? Will “one more heave” do the trick, or is a radically different approach needed?

Realistically, I would predict that exactly the same is going to happen in 2013, and 2014, and 2015, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. If you run your own pub, or a pub chain, or a brewery, accept that and plan for it.

It also must be recognised that, despite all their weasel words, the political class couldn’t give a shit about either pubs or the brewing industry. They see pubs as a blight on the environment and a cause of disorder and alcohol abuse, and brewing as a “toxic trade”. Any talk of pubs being “an essential part of the social fabric” will cut no ice with them. So attempting to appeal to their better nature and paint pubs as a positive force will inevitably prove fruitless.

Realistically, if you wish to defend pubs and the brewing industry, and stand up for the right of adults to enjoy a few drinks if that is their choice, you need to take a deep breath, step back and look at the wider picture.

This policy will ultimately only be stopped by defeating, or at least marginalising, the growing trend to regard even the moderate consumption of alcohol as an entirely negative and harmful activity, especially when done outside the house. Even if you cut off a head of the hydra by arguing on their own terms, it will still grow back from the root. So the key to stopping the duty escalator is to counter the entire premise of the anti-drink lobby.

No opportunity must be missed to rebut their lies and exaggerations, point out the lack of scientific basis for their claims (particularly the absurd official drinking guidelines) and stress the positive benefits alcoholic drinks bring for the vast majority of people who consume them. No accommodation or compromise must ever be sought with them, however reasonable it may seem, and no quarter ever given.

Any temptation to open up artificial divisions between different sections of the alcohol market should be avoided, and the campaign against alcohol should not be regarded as a special case but rather just one more example of the way governments to seek to exercise ever-growing control over how individuals live their lives.

If you do that, you might stand a chance of success. If you don’t, you will surely fail. It’s up to you.


  1. You are not wrong but you are pissing int the wind, fella.

    CAMRA see positives in the decline of keg lagers even if it closes pubs and really does think hiking the price of these in the off trade will fill pubs. They are not about to stop.

    Various industry groups see a benefit to themselves from kicking others, whether it is groups of independant regionals, micro or macro brewers. They are not about to stop.

    The pub trade sees the off licenses & supermarkets as an enemy

    All these groups seek to believe whatever reinforces their own pre existing view point and will ignore anything that challenges it.

    The lower duty campaign is directly at odd with minimum pricing

    Higher taxes will be the route to which minimum pricing comes in. In some form or other, all have been asking for it.

    Longer term, gradually, drinking will become a habit of a minority........

  2. Mudgie. I agree with what you say

    Cookie. I agree with what you say.

  3. Civil disobedience... seems to work well for the French etc., etc.

  4. "Civil disobedience... seems to work well for the French etc., etc."

    Indeed. Where I live, it is deep rooted in the national psyche. That's why stupid laws like the EU imposed smoking ban have been implemented three or four times and have been roundly ignored every time.

    My adopted countrymen have no time for pointless, damaging laws excreted by legislatively incontinent bureaucrats, and treat them with the contempt they deserve.

    But the Brits are a different breed. They do what they're told, unquestioningly. That's why the brainless ones in parliament, having been fed a tissue of lies by their fake charity courtiers and believed every word, get away with ever more illiberal legislation. UK is sleepwalking into a totalitarian police state, and will continue to do so unless a substantial number of people stand up and say "enough".

    But it won't happen in my lifetime, so I doubt that I will be setting foot on Britain's once fair shores again.

  5. Although getting a little off-topic, there is one aspect of law in the UK that is cheerfully ignored by large numbers of otherwise generally law-abiding people, namely the foxhunting ban. Because it is extremely difficult to prove that an offence has been committed, and therefore the authorities don't tend to waste their time on it, preferring easier targets. The problem in this country is that the state apparatus is very efficient in identifying transgressions by the generally law-abiding, but pretty useless in catching those who choose to live largely outside the law.

  6. The phrase 'pissing in the wind' was used by my wife to describe my efforts to smokers and 'smoking' back into pubs with the Campaign for Vaping in Pubs. The majority of each of our target audiences still keep proving her correct. The breweries are not interested, most pub landlords are not interested, most smokers are not interested and the same goes for CAMRA, vapers and the media.

    Unfortunately, our desire to protect something we hold dear - 'a real hub of community' - the local pub: is clouded in nostalgia and not modern day reality. I am from the last generation of people who hold that dear to their hearts. I remember when real pubs that were the place that people went to enjoy real conversations with real people. Places where tradesmen were friends on the pub darts team or played cards together, where people looked out for each other and did jobs for those that needed their help for a couple of pints or as a favour.

    In the mid 1980s all this began to wain as society changed, initially quite slowly in some parts (not in South Yorkshire) and then progressively quicker and quicker. The 'smoking ban' may have been the carpenter that built the coffin for the traditional pub BUT those who should have protected it didn't. The real pubs have been fatally poisoned by their own family; the breweries, the pub chains, many publicans and of course the wonderful CAMRA :(

    If the family had supported the pub in the first place, they would still be thriving in certain parts of the country and there would be a significant number of people willing to fight all the successive 'initiatives' to erradicate the 'fantasy' problems caused by alcohol. Alcohol itself is not the problem, it is the people who misuse it and the reasons why they do that are the problems. Real pubs that cared about their own helped control the problems associated with alcohol, they did not cause the problems.

    Sorry for the off topic-ish rant type post but all these laws and initiatives could be stopped if people cared about others ratyher than stereotyping and demonising them.


  7. PC

    I agree with your point, but come, come. It's not large numbers ignoring the fox-hunting ban. Surely, It's a certain number only. A "large" number as defined by most people, would necessiatae state intervention.


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